- Discos Need $10bn Investment to Boost Power Distribution –AFD
The 11 power distribution companies operating in Nigeria need $10bn worth of investments to efficiently distribute electricity across the country over a five-year period, the French Agency for Development has said.
AFD disclosed this in a report it presented to operators in the power sector in Abuja on Monday, adding that the $10bn investment would involve new investors and would deliver quality electricity services over the projected period.
Findings and recommendations contained in the report were presented at a conference organised by AFD on Nigeria’s power sector challenges, as the agency stated that it carried out the in-depth study with the support of the European Union in order to contribute and design a way forward for the industry.
“According to the best estimates, the 11 Discos operating in Nigeria would need more than $10bn in five years. Also, innovative financing solutions must be devised, possibly involving new players,” the study, which was done by a consultancy firm, AF Mercados, under the AFD’s Technical Assistance Programme, stated.
In a presentation that was made at the conference, the Team Leader of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Programme, AF Mercados, Jose Guerra, said the aim of the study was to help empower decision-makers in making the right decisions in Nigeria’s power sector.
The French agency noted that the AFD along with other development institutions involved in supporting the power sector in Nigeria had been witnessing the stall of investments in the sector since it was privatised.
It stated that this had led to the build-up of a major bottleneck, constraining access to electricity for the public and the economy, driving up the cost for users who now resort to diesel-powered generation.
It said the failed attempts at financing Discos led the Federal Government and its development partners to think out ways of breaking the vicious cycle that started from an initial infrastructure gap and led to today’s severe liquidity crisis with a revenue shortfall that is over $3bn.
The AFD report traced causes of the shortfall in the sector to the lack of a cost reflective tariff, customer dissatisfaction and lack of performance in the power sector in general, as these had led to a shutdown of access to finance.
In conducting the study, AFD said Mercados worked closely with stakeholders in the sector including the Discos since mid-2017, following the guidelines of the Performance Improvement Plans released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The study also highlighted key actions to be taken to solve the liquidity crisis in the sector such as segmenting the electricity market into manageable urban areas, rural areas, and potential eligible customers.
The other segmentations were informal settlements in urban areas and peri-urban areas, and the difficult to manage rural areas.
The report further talked about analysing the cost and revenue structure of the Discos on the various segments, as well as appropriate data that would help in valuing the needed investment linked to key performance targets to help in forming the PIP of each Disco as required by NERC.
The development partner, however, emphasised that there was a need to set up consistent legal and regulatory frameworks that would attract investors to sustain the power sector.
The study noted that there was a need for more investments rather than interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria in the electricity market.
It noted that N600bn had been earmarked as the second tranche of the CBN’s Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Fund starting this year or by 2020.
COVID-19: CBN Has Disbursed N83B Loans to Healthcare Sector
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, said the central bank had disbursed over N83.9 billion to pharmaceutical and healthcare practitioners in the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Also, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has stressed the need for a slash in the cost of governance in the country, saying a lot more resources could be dedicated towards healthcare and critical infrastructure.
They both said this yesterday, at the premiere of ‘Unmasked’, a documentary on Nigeria’s response to the pandemic held in Lagos.
Emefiele, who was represented by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwasinobi, explained: “Building a robust healthcare infrastructure was also vital from a security perspective, as some nations had imposed restrictions on the exports of vital medical drugs as well as the use of drug patents that could aid in containing the spread of the pandemic.
“As a result, we focused our interventions in the healthcare sector on three areas. Building the capacity of our healthcare institutions supporting the domestic manufacturing of drugs by businesses, and providing grants to researchers in the medical field, in order to encourage them to develop breakthrough innovations that would address health challenges faced by Nigerians.
“In this regard, we disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners, which is supporting 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country. We were also able to mobilise key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the CACOVID alliance, which led to the provision of over N25 billion in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centres across the country. These measures helped to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to the CBN Governor, the banking sector regulator also initiated the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Grant Scheme, which was to aid research on solutions that could address diseases such as COVID-19, and other communicable/non-communicable diseases.
He said so far, five major healthcare-related research projects were being financed under the initiative.
Speaking further on the call to increase access to health insurance, Emefiele said: “One key aspect which we would have to address is improving access to healthcare for all Nigerians. A key factor that has impeded access to healthcare for Nigerians is the prevailing cost of healthcare services.
“According to a study by World Health Organisation (WHO), only four percent of Nigerians have access to health insurance. Besides food, healthcare expenses are a significant component of average Nigeria’s personal expenditure.
“Out of pocket expenses on healthcare amount to close to 76 percent of total healthcare expenditure. At such levels of health spending, individuals particularly those in rural communities may be denied access to healthcare services.
“Expanding the insurance net to capture the pool of Nigerians not covered by existing health insurance schemes, could help to reduce the high out of pocket expenses on healthcare services by Nigerians. It will also help to increase the pool of funds that could be invested in building our healthcare infrastructure and in improving the existing welfare package of our healthcare workers.”
“The private sector has a significant role to play in this regard given the decline in government revenues as occasioned by the drop in commodity prices. Leveraging innovative solutions that can provide insurance services at relatively cheap prices could significantly help to improve access to healthcare for a large proportion of Nigerians particularly those in our rural communities.”
According to Emefiele, the CBN remains committed to working with all stakeholders in improving access to finance and credit that would support the development of viable healthcare infrastructure in our country.
On his part, Sanwo-Olu said: “What are the lessons that we have learned with the Covid-19? Looking at all the things that Covid-19 has cost us, how are we preparing ourselves?
“The truth be told the structure of our governance system needs to change particularly the cost of governance. We need to speak up and ask ourselves are we ready to change.”
“When it gets to the election it is the same set of people that will come up and people don’t come out to vote and we end up having 20 percent out of 100 percent that will elect those that will govern. So, the change has to be about all of us. That is how the real change that will help us will come,” he added.
Emefiele Says CBN Will Resist All Attempts to Continue Maize Importation
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to resist all attempts to continue the importation of maize into the country.
Godwin Emefiele, the governor, CBN, in a statement titled ‘Emefiele woos youths to embrace agriculture’, said: “the CBN would resist attempts by those who seek to continually import maize into the country.”
Emefiele, who spoke in Katsina during the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and inauguration of the 2021 maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, said maize farmers in the country had what it takes to meet the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.
“With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,” Emefiele said.
He explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors.
He added that this would in turn impact positively on current poultry feed prices, as over 60 per cent of maize produced in the country were used for producing poultry feed.
Nigeria’s Spending Structure Unsustainable, Budget Head Says
Nigeria’s current trend of spending more money on running the government than on building new infrastructure is unsustainable, the country’s top budget oversight official said.
Low revenue collection and high recurrent costs have resulted in actual capital expenditure below two trillion naira ($4.88 billion) a year for a decade, Ben Akabueze, director-general of the Budget Office, said Tuesday in a virtual presentation.
“Hence, the investments required to bridge the infrastructure gap are way beyond the means available to the government,” Akabueze said. Recurrent spending, allocated towards salaries and running costs, has accounted for more than 75% of the public budget every year since 2011, he said.
Africa’s largest economy requires at least $3 trillion of spending over the next 30 years to close its infrastructure gap, Moody’s Investors Service said in November. The country’s tax revenue as a proportion of gross domestic product is one of the lowest globally, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“Huge recurrent expenditure has constrained the provision of good roads, steady power supply, health care services, quality education and quality shelter,” Akabueze said.
Nigeria should amend its constitution to create six regions to replace the existing 36 states, which each have their own governments, Akabueze said. The country also needs to reduce the number of cabinet ministers to a maximum of 24 from more than 40 and cut federal ministries to fewer than 20 from the current 27, he said.
“No country can develop where a large part of its earnings is spent on administrative structures rather than on capital investment,” Akabueze said.
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